Do you strive to improve your writing every day? Like any art, the journey to becoming a great writer is a long one. In fact, it might never end. There are many different things we can do to improve our skill at the craft of writing. So many, in fact, that it can oftentimes become overwhelming. It can feel like there’s so much to do, so much to learn, that instead, we just stay where we are. We procrastinate, putting off until tomorrow what we know we should be doing today.
How many things can you think of right now that would help you to become a better writer or move closer towards your writing goals? How many of them do you actually do on a regular basis? Perhaps you could:
- Read a book
- Take a class
- Write 1000 words
- Build your platform
- Engage your audience
- Listen to a podcast
- Do some research
- Outline your next story
The sheer amount of things on your to-do list can paralyze you. Some of these things can feel like they’ll take a gargantuan amount of effort, and how do you even know that you’re spending your time on the most important one?
Let’s take ‘read a book’ for example. When we stop to consider doing this, we imagine how long it takes to read an entire book, and how much discipline that’s going to take. It can be hard to muster up enough motivation to read an entire book, right? Especially if we don’t know if it will be any good! What about ‘write 1000 words’? This might be something you do regularly, but some days it can be harder than others. The thought of writing that chapter or article can seem almost impossible.
The 2-minute rule
In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen outlines the 2-minute rule as a method to overcome procrastination. He suggests that, as rule, if something takes less than 2 minutes, then it should be done immediately. So think paying that bill, washing those dishes, sending that email.
Implementing the 2-minute rule can change your life, but we can apply it to all of our tasks. If there’s a book you know you should read, then read for 2 minutes. If you need to write 1000 words, then write for 2 minutes. Most of the effort required to do something is required simply to get started. I once heard this compared to a rocket attempting to leave the earth’s atmosphere. Most of its fuel is spent breaking free from earth’s gravitational pull. Once this is accomplished, it takes very little fuel to continue moving.
Getting started is the hardest part
You’ll often find that once you’ve started a task, it’s far easier to see it through to completion than you thought. After you’ve mustered up the energy to start and continue on for 2 minutes, you’ll have settled into the task and be far more willing to keep on going.
2 minutes to better writing
So now it’s time to use this to your advantage. Make a list of all the things you could do to improve your writing. List your daily tasks as well as other things you’d like to do. Now pick any one of them and do it for 2 minutes. You might just surprise yourself at how much you get done!
Peter Turley is a writer, editor, blogger and podcaster living in the North West of England where he grew up. He reads, writes and edits fantasy fiction and co-hosts www.thebookeditorshow.com with Clark Chamberlain. Follow him on Twitter @PDTurley